Hell is an eternity of tech support

20 Aug

First published on MyBroadband | 20 August, 2010

Let me describe a situation that many of the exceptional individuals who frequent this site are probably familiar with.

You are sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon, the cars/bikes are lining up on the grid for the race and the phone goes. Invariably it is not one of your best mates asking if he can come round and watch the race at your place and bring beer with. Invariably it is a friend/relative/someone who you once went to school with who thinks you are god’s gift to technology and they are having some sort of technical problem with their computer and they are hoping that you might be able to help them.

So, being the good natured soul that you are, you ask a few vague questions in the hope that you might be able to figure out why they can’t print and before you know it you have missed, not only the start of the race, but also the obligatory first corner pile up and possibly the first set of pit stops and all you have left is the procession to the end of the race.

There is, of course, one thing worse than this situation and that is when you have volunteered to help out a mate/family member who needed help replacing their laptop and you stepped into the breach. To be fair you probably did this because you knew that if you left them alone they would buy some piece of junk and you would be left missing the grand prix because the machine they bought had just imploded and taken a whole day’s work with it.

But what happens when you get a great deal for a friend on a machine that you know that is pretty reliable and set it up for them and get everything up and running and all of a sudden they phone you up and not only is Window 7 randomly blue screening, but the printer doesn’t seem to work with Word or Acrobat (although it will print from Firefox and Wordpad) and half the USB ports just decide they aren’t going to work anymore.

Is it a dud computer? Has your friend done something monumentally stupid and ensured that you have to make a visit to their house and spend the better part of a weekend installing and uninstalling software, booting and rebooting the system? Or is this simply an issue that requires them to change one setting and everything will be all right?

The problem for me is that I feel responsible for the computer welfare of some of my friends. I want their experiences with their machines to be as seamless as mine generally is. And to be totally honest, I want them to think that I gave them the best technology advice they had ever had and that things have never been better.

Sadly 99% of the times helping people out with their IT problems, or even being known as the guy that knows something about computers, only results in more calls on Sunday afternoon as the Grand Prix is about to start, and this is something that should be avoided at all costs.

From my perspective I have achieved one of my goals in my IT support life and that was getting my brother to ditch his dialup connection and get ADSL and I am still working on my other goal. Namely finding a computer simple enough that my mother can use without having to call me for tech support once a day.

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